Saturday: Dreams, dinosaurs, snakes and tolerance

This post is a mix of topics that don’t really fit together, but I’m going to toss them together anyway instead of creating several brief posts on the same day.

I woke up late Saturday morning after some silly dreams. In one of them, I am hiking in a beautiful canyon park with Tom Hanks and a young man who is supposed to be his son. (I have a lot of random actors in my dreams, I think because some of them are so familiar they feel like old friends.) Suddenly we are chased by a dinosaur. The three of us take off in different directions. As the dinosaur gets closer, I see that it is a herbivore (a small brontosaurus-type), but for some reason it wants to attack or eat us. I make it to the edge of the park and run into a narrow alley between two apartment buildings where the creature can’t follow.

Later I dreamt that I am driving while sitting in the back seat on the passenger side of a car. My girlfriend Anne  is with me. As we climb a small hill, I have to stretch my neck to see  the road over the front seat and the dashboard. The windshield on the passenger side has some kind of brochure or sign partially obstructing the glass, so I move over to the driver’s side of the car (I’m still in the backseat) and resume driving from there. Of course, in the craziness of dreams, it never occurs to me to climb into the front seat, or to wonder why there are two steering wheels in the backseat.

I often have dreams about driving cars from the backseat. Some might think this is a literal play on the “backseat driver” theme, indicating a desire to control others or pull strings behind the scene. For me, I think it indicates that I feel a lack of control or direction, or uncertainty about the path ahead (the future). As I sit here writing this, however, I realize it is probably related to some irritation I’ve been feeling lately at some artist acquaintances of mine. I’ve curated a few group shows over the years, and there’s a core group of artists (friends and friendly acquaintances) that I invite to participate in these shows. Of these ten or so artists, only three of them have ever returned the favor, and of those who haven’t, one of them curates shows frequently. So I think the dream symbolizes my working behind the scenes for these folks, and the fact that it does not seem to be getting me anywhere.

As for the dinosaur, who knows. As a child I had a lot of monster dreams as a result of watching too many horror movies. These days, the dreams are more thrill seeking/adventurous than scary. *Shrugs*

Onto more Vodou-specific topics.

In one of the discussion groups I belong to, someone asked if it was possible to practice Vodou without all the Catholic trappings. (My thoughts on this are that it is possible to minimize the Catholic material in one’s personal practices, but one has to tolerate them in group rituals.) I remember when I began seriously studying Vodou. Coming from a completely non-Christian, Pagan background, I was not very comfortable including Catholic prayers or saints in my personal rituals. Last year I began serving Erzulie Freda and now have an image of the Mater Dolorosa in her shrine. I’ve become accustomed to the image and quite fond of it. I think the Lord’s Prayer is an elegant piece of poetry. A few weeks ago, Anne and I were looking for a history center at a Mormon church and walked into a Catholic church by mistake, and we were in awe of the beauty of the cathedral with its stained glass windows. Years ago, I went to a Catholic wedding with my mother, and I remember it was very long but also very ritualistic and beautiful.

Also recently I was at a friend’s art show and someone there was talking about being called by the Holy Spirit. Before Vodou, when I was Wiccan with a sometimes bad attitude towards Christians, I would have scoffed at this, but not now. Now I know what it’s like to be called by someone (in my case, Legba), so who am I to say that someone else wasn’t called by another spirit?

I can say then that Vodou has made me more tolerant towards Christianity. And this is a good thing. This does NOT include Pat Robertson and any other nut case who thinks the Haitians are being punished with an earthquake for making a pact with the devil. Those morons can stick it where the sun don’t shine. Vodouists don’t make pacts with Christian deities, unless you count the syncretized saints. Not that I have anything against the devil, mind you. I know some decent Luciferians. But as someone posted elsewhere, if Haiti had made a pact with the devil, you would think the country would be rich with an oil discovery or something. You don’t make a pact to live in poverty.

On a final note, I’ve found that Vodou has helped me get in touch with the Asian side of my  heritage, in an indirect way. I’ve developed the habit of haunting Asian shops for shrine items. The little Asian teacups are perfect for small shrines, and come in a variety of colors and designs. A few weeks ago, I even found a small green snake statue at a gift shop in Chinatown. This past week or so, I was thinking how nice it would be to find a snake statue in white for Damballah. So today, on the way home from Capitol Hill, my girlfriend and I stopped at that gift shop and there was a white snake statue with an interesting Art Deco-looking design. Would you believe each one cost less than $4.00? I love Asian stores!

At this time I am not serving Damballah, but I still like my snake statues. Tomorrow I am planning to go to the nearby Northwest African American Museum and see if I can find something for Papa Legba. He still needs a 3D avatar.

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